Demonstrations in Prague and Brno express solidarity with Belarusian protesters

About 1,000 people took part in a demonstration in support of Belarusian protesters yesterday at Prague's Old Town Square

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 17.08.2020 09:36 (updated on 17.08.2020)

Prague, Aug 16 (CTK) – Some 1,000 people, according to CTK estimates, took part in a rally staged in Old Town Square in the center of Prague to express solidarity with protesters in Minsk and other Belarusian towns, and a similar demonstration in support of Belarusian people was staged in Brno.

The Prague demonstration, entitled Free Belarus 2020, is a reaction to the result of the presidential election a week ago, in which long-term president Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected, and to the brutal police violence against demonstrators in Belarus.

The demonstrators in Prague carried EU flags and the historical red-white flags of Belarus and they chanted slogans in support of a free Belarus and for Lukashenko’s resignation.

The meetings are organised by Czech citizens along with Belarusians living in Czechia, many of whom left their homeland due to the Lukashenko regime.

“Our main demand is an active pressure on the Czech government for faster and more resolute steps in cooperation with other EU countries” said Michal Majzner, one of the Prague rally organizers.

Demonstration in support of Belarus at Prague's Old Town Square via Raymond Johnston
Demonstration in support of Belarus at Prague’s Old Town Square via Raymond Johnston

There was a stage and a large screen on Old Town Square, on which the organizers started screening shots from demonstrations in Belarus one hour before the Prague event.

Today’s rally started with the observation of a minute of silence in memory of the victims who had died during the civil unrest in Belarus.

Amnesty International collected signatures in the square on a protest petition against Belarusian brutality that it would like to pass on to the Belarusian ambassador to Prague.

Alena Kovarova, a representative of the Belarusian minority in the Czech government council, in her speech announced that the opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya had gained 92 percent of the vote in the presidential election and Lukashenko only under 5 percent.

Many demonstrators in Prague were young Belarusians who carried banners in three languages calling for Lukashenko’s resignation. The protesters also unfolded a giant Belorussian flag on the square, for which the crowd made a heart-shaped space, and the organizers sent this picture to Belarus.

Among the speakers, there was also Michael Zantovsky, a former spokesman for president Václav Havel. He called for interrupting contacts with the Belarusian government until Lukashenko’s departure, granting asylum to the activists who would flee to Czechia and securing places for Belarusian students at Czech universities without visa duty.

Senator Pavel Fischer (independent) called on the government to impose sanctions against representatives of the Belarusian regime.

Senator Václav Láska (SEN 21) labelled Lukashenko as a dictator who should end up behind bars.

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Demonstration in support of Belarus at Prague's Old Town Square via Raymond Johnston
Demonstration in support of Belarus at Prague’s Old Town Square via Raymond Johnston

People from the Million Moments for Democracy association, which held protests against the government and PM Babiš, helped the organizers stage mass meetings for Belarusian opposition. Police officers, including members of the anti-conflict team, were monitoring today’s demonstration.

Some 400 people took part in a protest march over the situation in Belarus in the streets of Prague on Saturday.

A similar meeting of some 1,000 people in support of civil protests in Belarus was staged in the central square in Brno, the second largest town of the Czech Republic today.

Participants carried banners reading “Free Belarus”” and “Down with the Dictator” and historical flags of Belarus. One is also flying on the Brno town hall’s seat on the square. Belarusians living in Czechia attended the rally as well.

A mass anti-government protest also took place in the center of Minsk, attended by 200,000 people according to Reuters, while the DPA German news agency estimated the attendance at 100,000 and the French AFP wrote about tens of thousands of protesters. They called for political changes, Lukashenko’s resignation, and release of detained people.

Protests were staged in other Belarusians towns as well.

They erupted after the central electoral commission officially confirmed the “crushing victory” of the long-term president Lukashenko and said Tsikhanouskaya had gained some 10 percent of the vote.

At least two people died in the demonstrations in connection with the police brutal crackdown and some 6,700 were arrested. Lukashenko denies the election having been manipulated, which the opposition claims, and refuses to hold a new presidential election.

PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) tweeted today that the European Union must encourage Belarusians not to fear to accomplish the Velvet Revolution like that leading to the fall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989, and that the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, along with the Baltic countries, should play a role in this respect.

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